29 Dreamy Space-Smart Kitchens


Kitchens of every size should be outfitted with both style and function. See how these wow-worthy kitchens live large with smart layouts, luxe materials, and professional-grade appliances.

01 of 29

Modern Medley: Island


The kitchen is often the hub for the everyday hustle and bustle of family life. A sleek furniture-style island in the center of this narrow kitchen makes the most of the limited area and helps the hardworking kitchen space feel more livable. The island fuses modern hardware with utilitarian conveniences to create a space that’s suited to both cooking and entertaining.

Related: Access Our Guide to Kitchen Design

02 of 29

Modern Medley: Sink Area


Closely mirroring the look of the cooktop area on the other side of the kitchen, the sink area boasts plenty of counter space for food prep. Symmetrically balancing the kitchen on both sides of the island gives the room a streamlined, contemporary look.

03 of 29

Modern Medley: Hardware


Vertically set stainless-steel hardware draws the eye upward, emphasizing the kitchen’s height. Meanwhile, horizontal drawer pulls visually guide the eye around the boxy space. Replacing certain cabinet fronts with frosted glass keeps the narrow space feeling open and airy while still slightly obscuring the contents.

04 of 29

Modern Medley: Cooktop


Opposite the sink, the cooktop is accented with the same mosaic tiles, effectively balancing Spanish and contemporary design styles—one request that was high on the homeowners’ list of remodeling must-haves. The tiny mosaic tiles recall the colors and feel of Spanish architecture while also emphasizing the modern, monochromatic palette used throughout the kitchen.

Related: Kitchen Backsplash Ideas for Every Style

05 of 29

Modern Medley: Lighting


A centrally placed light fixture highlights the kitchen island, giving the informal eating space a dining room feel. Covered in a natural woven fabric, the large pendant softens the kitchen’s modern look and sparks interest overhead in the streamlined galley.

06 of 29

Modern Medley: Surfaces

kitchen island

A careful balance of contrasting surfaces and finishes helps the small kitchen space appear larger. The cabinets' clean lines and rich mahogany finish highlight new stainless-steel appliances and door pulls. The existing saltillo-tile flooring was left intact to emphasize the kitchen's unique modern Spanish design scheme.

07 of 29

Middle Ground: Central Location


Modern meets rustic in this small kitchen, where natural elements such as wood and stone fuse with clear, authentic finishes and clean, contemporary lines. A large central island, a built-in banquette, and a table on the nearby patio offer ample seating room to ensure the hardworking kitchen is also well-suited to family gatherings.

08 of 29

Middle Ground: Floor Plan

kitchen island

No. 1 on the homeowner's list of must-haves was an open floor plan that would take advantage of the adjacent backyard. A wall of foldaway doors opposite the backsplash wall offers easy access to the patio and takes advantage of the warm Arizona climate. The limestone used on the home's exterior wraps itself inside, serving as the design inspiration for the kitchen's earthy palette.

09 of 29

Middle Ground: Surfaces


Wooden ceiling beams overhead emphasize the gently sloped ceiling, and their knotted, unfinished surfaces blend well with the earthiness of the kitchen. Meanwhile, modern stainless-steel appliances and simple bronze cabinet hardware add a splash of contemporary flair.

10 of 29

Middle Ground: Backsplash


The multicolor backsplash stretches across one wall of the kitchen in what the designer calls a “Mondrian-modern pattern.” The hand-cut recycled brass tiles lend a dash of muted color that blends well with the kitchen’s rustic scheme. The stainless-steel cooktop preserves cabinet space below that would ordinarily be gobbled up by a full range.

11 of 29

Middle Ground: Sink Area

kitchen sink

On the central island, a large farmhouse sink rests cozily amid granite countertops. The warm hues of the stone echo those featured in the nearby backsplash and in the home’s rough-cut limestone walls. The plentiful counter space allows the island to function as a work zone and eating area all in one.

12 of 29

Middle Ground: Storage


With limited square footage, the homeowners had to carefully plan an approach to storage. The kitchen’s rich walnut cabinetry stretches from floor to ceiling, providing adequate storage space along just two walls. The vertical wood grain is visible through the rich stain, which helps emphasize the simple lines of the cabinetry. The reclaimed-wood flooring boasts marks of its former life, adding to the rustic, weathered character featured throughout the kitchen.

13 of 29

Middle Ground: Banquette


Located conveniently close to the kitchen island, the built-in banquette provides a casual spot to sit and enjoy a leisurely morning breakfast. The high-backed bench, a sturdy zinc-top table, and a simple low-hanging light fixture create a bistro feel in the small dining nook.

14 of 29

Light & Livable: Expansion


Reconfiguring existing space is less complicated and costly than adding on. Here, a slice of space stolen from the garage gave this narrow galley kitchen room to grow. The kitchen now features a spacious center island and a slender floor-to-ceiling pantry wall, adding style and function where it was lacking before.

15 of 29

Light & Livable: Storage


Located directly across from the central island, a wall of 12-inch-deep floor-to-ceiling cabinets function as pantry space. Frosted-glass panels break up the solid wall of cabinetry and add to the kitchen’s light and airy feel while keeping clutter out of sight.

16 of 29

Light & Livable: Details


Alabaster-glazed maple cabinets keep the room feeling bright and inviting. Channel grooves in the cabinetry add subtle dimension and texture to the clean design. Simple, vertically hung hardware is scaled to suit the kitchen’s floor-to-ceiling cabinetry.

17 of 29

Light & Livable: Appliances


The professional-style range and stainless-steel refrigerator anchor the working side of the kitchen. To create a compact work triangle, the sink sits at one end of the narrow island, directly opposite the range. Placing the sink at one end of the island ensures that there is always plenty of space for food prep and staging.

18 of 29

Light & Livable: Backsplash


Less dressy than glass but with a high-gloss finish, the glazed clay backsplash tiles were installed in a running bond pattern along the range wall. The arrangement is reminiscent of a mosaic, but it ends up looking more timeless. The pale, light-reflective hue of the tiles helps to visually expand the narrow kitchen.

19 of 29

Light & Livable: Island


Despite its narrow construction, the island packs in plenty of storage options. Deep drawers offer storage space for larger items such as pots and pans, while others provide the perfect spot to stow away hand towels and utensils. An open shelf on one side of the island creates a handy spot to place a microwave.

Related: Kitchen Island Storage Ideas

20 of 29

Light & Livable: Surfaces


Surfaces throughout the kitchen were chosen for their luminosity. From white granite countertops to stainless-steel appliances, everything in the kitchen works hard to reflect light and visually expand the narrow space. Here, industrial-style lighting adds a subtle vintage element and ensures the kitchen’s main work zone is well-lit.

21 of 29

Light & Livable: Eat-In Area

dining table

To keep the area looking clean and simple, the nearby banquette uses only a few types of furnishings, colors, and patterns. Stainless-steel French café chairs opposite the bench blend well with the rest of the room’s luminous features. A large pendant provides ample light after the sun goes down.

22 of 29

Aging Gracefully: An Evolution


Don’t let the reclaimed wide-plank floors and three different countertop materials fool you. This is a new kitchen designed to look as if it evolved over time. The U-shape kitchen space features a central island and an adjacent seating area, making it the perfect spot for family gatherings. The extra-high ceiling and large windows add a generous amount of light and views.

23 of 29

Aging Gracefully: Cooking Area


The dual-fuel range combines a gas cooktop with electric ovens. Candelabra-style sconces play in to the historical feel of the kitchen and add light to the task area. An oversize trim piece above the vent hood gives the stainless-steel hood a built-in look.

24 of 29

Aging Gracefully: Countertop


A variety of countertop materials—Carrara marble, mahogany, and soapstone, to be exact—along with a variety of pulls and knobs play into the developed-over-time feel of the kitchen. A marble front creates the illusion that the heavy-duty stainless-steel sink is really an antique apron-front model.

25 of 29

Aging Gracefully: Character


Along with the reclaimed-wood flooring, these antique schoolhouse lights provide the kitchen with a genuine connection to the past. The beaded-board treatment on the ceiling emphasizes the cozy, relaxed character of the space. Crown molding atop the cabinetry and surrounding the window is another element that recalls historical style.

26 of 29

Aging Gracefully: Sinks


A small prep sink built in to the island ensures the area is fully equipped for a chef hard at work. The slab of dark soapstone atop the island adds contrast that helps break up the look of the all-white cabinetry and surrounding countertops. A pair of stools along one side of the island creates a casual dining spot.

27 of 29

Aging Gracefully: Cabinetry


Cabinet panels provide creative cover-ups, concealing the built-in refrigerator (shown here) and dishwasher. Cabinetry to the left of the fridge conceals a microwave and other small appliances. Furniture-style feet at the base of the cabinets recall kitchens of the past.

28 of 29

Aging Gracefully: Storage

kitchen desk

A hutchlike cabinet arrangement just off the kitchen serves multiple roles: desk, media center, and display cabinet. Cabinets and drawers on the lower portion of the desk stow away an array of office items and everyday mail, while the open upper shelving displays the homeowner’s collection of antique dishware.

29 of 29

Aging Gracefully: Sitting Area


A pair of vintage leather wing chairs creates a gathering area just outside the kitchen's main work zone. The sitting area is the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of morning coffee or for guests to relax and chat with the chef. The chairs' traditional styling blends effortlessly with the kitchen's antique flavor.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles